Copa América: Colombia upends Uruguay a man down in tense semifinal that ends in violence

Playing shorthanded for more than a half, Colombia upended Uruguay, 1-0 in a tense Copa América semifinal Wednesday night that ended with a postgame scuffle on the field and a brawl in the stands.

With the win, Colombia advances to its first Copa América final and its second ever since winning the championship in 2001. There, it will face a stiff task against Lionel Messi and reigning World Cup champion Argentina, which cruised through its half of the field while allowing a single goal in five games.

Colombia and Argentina will face off Sunday night in Miami.

Strong support for Colombia in stands

Wednesday's semifinal was played in Charlotte, but might as well have been hosted in Bogotá. The Bank of America stands were packed with fans sporting yellow Colombia gear. Colombia delivered for those fans in a testy game that tallied six yellow cards and a red-card ejection before the postgame exchanges.

Colombia entered Wednesday's game as the highest-scoring team in the tournament (11 goals), fresh off a 5-0 quarterfinal win over Panama. It struck first on a corner kick in the 38th minute. James Rodríguez sent the ball to the back post on the corner kick, where Jefferson Lerma leapt high in the air and squeezed the ball between the post and goalkeeper Sergio Rochet.

The goal was just the second allowed by Uruguay all tournament.

Colombia's defense, meanwhile, stifled a Uruguay offense that scored nine goals in four previous Copa América games. Uruguay didn't put any of its four first-half shots on goal.

Ejection puts pressure back on Colombia

The tide threatened to shift late in the second half. Colombia's Daniel Muñoz, who picked up a yellow card earlier in the half on a tackle, picked up his second yellow just before the half. After a scuffle following a foul on Colombia's Davinson Sánchez, Uruguay's Manuel Ugarte grabbed Muñoz's jersey from behind.

Muñoz responded with an elbow to the chest that knocked Ugarte to the turf, drawing his second yellow and ultimately a red card that led to his ejection.

Head coach Néstor Lorenzo protested to no avail. Muñoz was tossed, and Colombia was set to play the second half a man down.

Uruguay's offense was much improved after halftime as it controlled the ball and put two of its seven shots on goal. But it didn't convert on the scoreboard as Colombia held on for victory.

Postgame violence on field, in stands

The tension that marked the game throughout carried over at midfield after the final whistle. Players traded shoves and blows at midfield in the moments after the game.

The scuffle was eventually subdued on the field, but carried over into the stands, where Uruguayan players including Liverpool's Darwin Núñez traded blows and shoves with Colombia fans. Fans were seen throwing drinks toward players, while Núñez charged through the stands to fight with fans.

Uruguay's José Maria Gimenez told the broadcast after the game that players were defending their families from a group of Colombia fans who swarmed them. He called for changes in organization and security.

The consequences of the postgame brawl weren't immediately clear. Uruguay is scheduled to face Canada in a third-place game on Saturday in Charlotte.

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